Your weekend is booked with fun activities. Or you’re just too tired to get in the kitchen. Or you just have no idea what you will feel like eating during the week and you think why bother plan and prep in the first place.
Well, let me say this.
It happens to every one of us.
But then there’s the inevitable question?
What will I eat all week? Am I going to eat at restaurants? order in? Take out? or get in the kitchen and figure it out as I go?
Actually, meal planning and food preparation are not this black or white. And all of the above weekend scenarios, true stories.
What did I do at the time?
Improvising last minute recipes, going several trips to the grocery store, ordering in a couple of times. It wasn’t that bad but it came at an expense.
It meant more work for me in the kitchen doing the dishes and more stress figuring out what quick decent meal can come out with the items I have on hand. In fact, my cooking experience started with Rachael Ray’s thirty minute meals. Let me tell you, not so thirty minutes if you need to wash and chop everything from scratch. More like an hour for the novice cook. Add to that some thirty minutes to clean up. Yeah the delivery man can make it faster! Luckily, I loved the kitchen and had an eye for quick and tasty recipes. So thirty minutes meals started shyly to live up to their reputation. But on the downside, some foods would inevitably go to waste and if I hadn’t had the time to exercise before, then my workout session would go down the drain. Actually, that last part makes of me a statistic*. A study published last week found that adults tend to trade one healthy act for another. That is if you are preparing your meals and exercising on the same day, you are more likely to spend more time on one at the expense of the other.
Long story short, what do I do now when my weekend is pretty much crammed and I don’t have time to shop and prep?
1- Sometimes, I do my shopping before the weekend, clean and chop some fruits and veggies. It won’t take much time and that way I know at least healthy snacks and essential parts of meals are ready and are at eyesight in the fridge.
2- I make sure that breakfast is taken care of, no matter what. If we have homemade granola or muesli, it’s fine. For the past two weeks, I’ve been experimenting with baked oatmeal. When I have nothing baked on the weekend, we have overnight oats ( all it takes is a couple of minutes at night) or a pita bread sandwich with cheese/labneh and vegetable fillings ( a few minutes in the morning). I have seen so many bloggers preparing breakfast burritos for the whole week and freezing them. I guess I need to try this as well soon.
3- I do double batches during weekdays: No need to do all the prep on the weekend. There will ultimately be a couple of recipes during the weekday that can be easily doubled or tripled and frozen. The black bean burger patties from last week is one example. The chicken pie I prepared two weeks ago is another. That way when a busy weekend comes along, I have the first few days of the week set till I get the time to think of other recipes and check what extra items I need to shop for.
4- I have a list of recipes that I have tried and I know are easy enough to be done in a breeze. No need to try anything complicated at the last minute, right? I tweak as I go depending on the items I have available or what we are in the mood for at the moment.
If you’re a fast cook, you know your way pretty well around the kitchen, and you have enough time to shop and prepare your meals on almost daily basis, that’s great! But if doing that came at the expense of going to the gym or worse yet ended up by calling the delivery guy most of the days, it is time to rethink your food planning strategy. Start small and build up from there. And when a particular weekend is just meant to be all swimming and lazying in the sun, enjoy it cause you know you already have something ready for Monday, right?
My menu plan for this week is also linked up on Menu Plan Monday at I’m an Organizing Junkie.
Monday: Chicken pie with double potato mash topping (from the freezer) with lettuce salad.
Tuesday: Zucchini fritters served with tzatziki and pita bread.
Wednesday: Green peas stew with brown rice. One of my husband’s favorite dishes, that’s why it is on regular rotation around our house. I love it as well and it couldn’t be easier once you’re using frozen peas and frozen “aliyyeh” which I had prepared last week. The rice will be the hardest part ;)!
Thursday: Lean Beef stroganoff will serve it over papardelle pasta
Friday: Lunch out
Saturday: If no leftovers, will probably do a quick tortilla pizza (tortilla, tomato sauce, mushroom, olives and mozzarella). Few minutes over the stove top, can’t be easier.
Sunday: Orange Marinated Salmon
As you see, the first three days are all meals I had prepared on days where I had more time on my hands and from groceries that I hadn’t finished and don’t want to go to waste (zucchini and yogurt). On Tuesday, I’ll be going to the supermarket to get the necessary ingredients for the end of the week.
Two new salads to mix things up this week. They will be repeated if we like them and we will have the usual the rest of the week.
Cucumber Chickpea salad (will use with it the herb lemon dressing I had prepared last week)
It is also Earth Day today and I have written about some green tips to celebrate Earth Day every day last year, if you want to check the post out.
Happy Earth Day!
Have you ever tried freezing breakfast burritos before? What do you recommend as fillings?
*The study is American but it might as well apply to me!